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  • Other Gifts Photo Gifts

    Are Mugs Good Gift Ideas?

    Can you recall these days when a mug with a funny text on it was a real gift hit? Inexpensive, creative and one-of-a-kind, it seemed to be a perfect present for a classmate. Are such mugs still popular? When and whom can you give them? What mug to choose? Find out by reading about my experience.

    In my school days, I offered several such mugs. Later, however, I considered this gift too common and focused on more creative and personalised gifts. Meanwhile, I have received nearly 20 mugs of varying sizes, colours and shapes. And you know what? The longer I look at them, the more I come to the conclusion that they were all very successful gifts.

    Mugs with texts

    The characteristic that differentiates most of my mugs from the mugs I used to gift as a teenager is personalisation. In the past, I would read the text, and if I liked it, I tried to match it with a prospective recipient. Mug producers, in turn, tried to embellish them with texts that would suit most people.

    Now, I have just one mug of this sort. Its text reads: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6,8”, and an accompanying picture shows a father playing with children in a sand pit. As you may easily guess, it belongs to my Husband, but we offer it other fathers who come to visit us, too.

    There are, however, mugs that we are more reluctant to share. Maybe you also have such?

    Personalised mugs

    One of my favourite mugs has owls on it, which were drawn by my younger cousin. I received it for Christmas 2006 when photo gifts weren’t popular yet. Printing a hand-drawn picture (or even a computer graphic) on a single mug seemed to me an outstanding achievement. My cousin definitely managed to impress me. My other cousin also received a similar mug, yet with husky dogs. Our little cousin was perfectly aware of the animals that fascinated us at that time.

    Only once again have I received a mug ordered specially for me. On our wedding, my brother-in-law and his wife gave us mugs with our names, the wedding date and pictures. The tall, slim mug features the bride holding a book, and the shorter, barrel-shaped mug shows the groom with a tennis racket. You have to admit that nobody else could have received such mugs!

    Not so long ago, I have given my grandfather a mug with the photo of all of his grandchildren. It surely makes a nice impression among other mugs and smiles at Grandpa whenever he misses us.

    Some of you surely have a talent for visual arts or nice handwriting. If you feel up to the task, you may adorn a mug yourself with a name, a funny text or a caricature of the recipient. I have never tried it, but it seems to be quite simple. Take a plain mug (it has to be ceramic!) and a ceramic marker (Sharpie appears to be the most popular choice). After you have finished drawing, “bake” the mug in your oven for half an hour in 170 degrees. This treatment will make your drawing water-proof.

    Mugs bought with the recipient in mind

    Our mug collection includes also other items that are closely attached to their owners. I own a mug with a mosaic representing an owl – a souvenir from a journey to Barcelona. My Husband, in turn, has an official mug of the FC Barcelona football club.

    I have to admit that my mug – the only one in our kitchen – was not a gift. I bought it myself because I couldn’t resist its charm. Yet if someone presented me with such a marvel, I would have been delighted. Similarly, seeing a mug that would suit someone’s taste so much, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it as a souvenir for this person. My Husband, in turn, received his mug as a Christmas gift because the whole family knows how much he supports the Catalan club.

    Mugs with their own stories

    Do you have mugs that you are fond of not because they match your taste, but because the giver presented them to you for a specific reason or they relate to some memories?

    I have received the oldest mug that I still use from my godmother, who believed I will “need it at the university”. The set also contained a plate and a bowl – all of them adorned with the same yellow sheep. Unfortunately, both dishes have already broken to pieces or got lost, but the mug still reminds me of the time when I was becoming an adult and received my first own dishes.

    Several years later, my best friends gave me a flowery mug. The girls told me to take it with me for an internship. By putting my mug on the office shelf, I was to guarantee myself a post there. It didn’t happen in the first place, but in the second office the mug stayed for good and reminded me of my dear friends when I was at work.

    The last mug from this series was a birthday gift from my colleagues from work. For a long time it didn’t evoke any feelings, but since I have been working at a different place, the mug reminds me of all the good things I experienced in the previous office.

    Company Mugs as Gifts

    Is a company mug a good gift?

    The mug I received from my work colleagues was not a company mug, but a mug bought in an ordinary china shop. My Husband, however, owns a mug with his former company’s logo. I think this mug brings back good memories. Yet, would it be a good gift for a non-employee? If parents are proud of their child’s job, they could be given such a mug to boast in front of their friends. If you work for a dream company whose gadgets are eagerly purchased (e.g. Walt Disney or NASA), you may give company mugs to your friends, too. Otherwise, the use of company mugs should be limited to employees.

    Paired mugs

    Do you also enjoy sitting down with your loved one, sipping your favourite tea, coffee or chocolate from matching mugs? We have four sets of mugs in our kitchen that are crying out to be used by couples.

    We drink from one pair after breakfast, dinner and supper. They are our most frequently used “couple” mugs, which we don’t share with others. When we are visited by couples, we offer them two other sets that we are not so attached to. Women drink from red mugs and men from the blue or grey one. Our wedding mugs are the last set. We drink from them only on special occasions, or when we have so many guests that we need to take out all of our mugs.

    What mug to choose?

    As you can see, any type of mugs may appeal to the recipient and bring back good memories.

    Firstly, try to figure out:

    Is the mug intended for a specific person only (such a mug will trigger pleasant associations, but may be unwillingly shared with others),

    or do you want to give a more practical set of mugs that will be nice to look at no matter whom they will serve?

    Then think about the recipient:

    – Relatives (especially parents or grandparents) may receive a mug that is somehow related to you (including your company’s logo, the photos of their grandchildren, etc.).

    – For friends or peers look for a mug that will suit their taste or relate to their hobby (favourite pet, football club, etc.).

    What about “ordinary” mugs?

    – Mugs that are simply hard to resist may also be a successful gift even if they are not personalised in any way. All you need to do is to motivate their purchase  (“It’s as colourful as you are!” / “It will help you make a professional impression in your new job!”, etc.).

    Furthermore, consider buying a set of mugs, so that the recipient could sip their favourite drink with someone using dishes from the same set. Some mugs are special just because they have their match.


    Yet, will a mug make someone happy?

    I know that most people use glasses on a daily basis and serve them to guests. I admit that it looks more elegant that a dozen mugs, each of a different size, shape and colour. But even traditionalists drink from mugs when they have a moment on their own, especially if they have a very special, personal mug. And if your nearest and dearest collect as many mugs as we have, they will be able to dispose of glasses and organise house parties during which no one will mistake their drinks!

    Do you have personal mugs that you enjoy using more than others? Do you like receiving or giving mugs as gifts? I would love to read about your experience!

    My advice:

    Remember that you don’t have to limit yourselves to photos on photo mugs. Most companies offering such gadgets will print on the mug anything you want: a text, a graphic design or even a scanned drawing. Just ensure that the image quality meets requirements.

    – If you want to enjoy your photo mug or a mug decorated with a marker for a long time, avoid washing it in a dishwasher!

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